Hundreds have been working since Sunday to feed thousands. Volunteers at the Brass Rail Restaurant in O'Fallon have been cooking and working around the clock to prepare meals.
“This saved our Thanksgiving. We had no Thanksgiving; no turkey, no stuffing, no nothing,” said Mariah Baxter.
Baxter and her partner, Brain, said they’re thankful for the free dinner.
"We have a 80-year-old mother at home. We are thankful. We have a baby on the way and without this, we would not have Thanksgiving,” Baxter said.
This tradition began five years ago, when Scott Ellinger cooked up a hot meal for about 90 people on Thanksgiving Day. It was so popular and demand kept growing.
“There are some low-income families around here and I was like, ‘Let’s make some dinners for them.’ That’s how it all started years ago,” Ellinger said.
More than 700 volunteers delivered the food on Thanksgiving in what was described as a massive labor of love. Ellinger ordered more than 3,000 pounds of turkeys, 2,500 pounds of ham, 1,500 pounds of mashed potatoes, 1,500 pounds of yams, and 1,500 pounds of macaroni cheese. All of the meals were made from scratch.